※ This interview took place just before the Boris with Michio Kurihara one-off performance (“Futomeido” at Shindaita Fever on 2018/12/29).
Boris is the band that knows how to work Michio best
-First off, how was it that you all decided you were going to play together again?
Atsuo: Boris spent all of 2017 to 2018 on our 25th anniversary world tour, and I when we decided to do the finale in Tokyo we thought that it would be cool to have Michio join us on stage as a guest for the finale of the tour.
Michio: Yeah, that sounds about right.
Atsuo: Michio played once in 2018 at UFO Club in Koenji. With Mani Neumeier.
Michio: That was April 2018.
Atsuo: All of us in the band decided we would check out the Mani show since Michio would be playing guitar for the first time in a while, so we ended up reconnecting there. You also played with Damon & Naomi[*1] in 2018, right?
Michio: Yeah, I’m pretty sure you guys were on a US tour back then. It had been two years since I did anything with Damon & Naomi, so the gig was a lot of fun. I wish you all could have seen it.
-So you talked about playing together again at UFO Club?
Atsuo: No, I think at that time it was more like we just went to see the show and didn’t really have ideas about playing together yet.
Takeshi: Maybe more along the lines of “Let’s do something sometime”?
Michio: Yeah, kind of like “Let’s play someday”, which I guess maybe sounds like one of those things people say just to be polite...
Michio: Anyway, I was simply happy that everyone came as a group to see the show. It was my first time playing in a band setting with a drummer since the Damon & Naomi show in 2018. Actually, I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to pull it off since I hadn’t done anything with a rhythm section for about six years. So aside from that session (with Mani Neumeier), it had been quite some time since I played with a band.
Boris -25th Anniversary Tour Final- (2018.09.22)
Atsuo: I really wanted to hear more (of Michio on the guitar) after that show at UFO Club. He wasn’t really out on center stage then, so I wanted something more, something that would make me scream out his name.
Michio: You did have a sort of dissatisfied look on your face.
Atsuo: That was because I knew Boris is the band that knows how to work you best (laughter).
Michio: To work me?! (laughter)
Atsuo: We draw you (your guitar playing) out there to the fullest. Everything from the nice tones to that harsh fuzz guitar that goes for the throat.
But, since the point of the event was celebrating 25 years of Boris, we weren’t able to really do that much together. Just two tracks, “ ” and “Rainbow”. Oh, and you joined in on “vein”, too.
Takeshi: Part of it was that Michio had been a supporting guitarist for six of those 25 years, though.
I guess maybe it will be less “Boris with Michio Kurihara” and more “Michio Kurihara with Boris”
-So how was it playing together again after so long? Did you notice any changes in each other?
Atsuo: It made me really happy, all the way from the rehearsals.
Michio: Boris was the same as ever, in the good sense (laughter). In fact, it was me I was unsure of, since there had been such an extended gap. Like, “Am I up to this?”
Atsuo: We did two songs then (at our 25th anniversary finale).
Michio: I would say I’m actually more worried this time.
Atsuo: But everything is turning out just fine (laughter).
Michio: If you say so (laughter). Honestly, I’m not so sure I’ve done well, since I’m having to check things each step of the way. Even though these are songs we used to play on tour all the time, I’m having to recall things bit by bit, like “What were the settings for that tune again?”
Boris -25th Anniversary Tour Final- (2018.09.22)
-What’s it like for you all in Boris to play with Michio after so long?
Takeshi: He’s the same as ever.
Wata: Yeah, I don’t get the impression he’s changed all that much.
Atsuo: He could still go no problem at the 25th anniversary event, too.
Takeshi: Yeah, like “Hell yeah, this is what we want!”
-What were your feelings after you actually played on stage together?
Atsuo: Maybe that Michio has mellowed out a bit, gotten a bit calmer.
Michio: Because I’m older now? I can’t really tell myself.
Wata: I didn’t really notice anything different. In fact, we have tons of songs that we can’t do without you, so I was really happy to be able to play them again.
Atsuo: Good call. We haven’t done any songs from Smile, Heavy Rocks (Purple), Attention Please, or New Album since you stepped away.
Wata: It just isn’t possible.
Atsuo: You may have been “supporting guitar”, but the truth is those tracks were made with the premise of you being there. In our mind you were a member of the band, so we put together the arrangements that way.
-So is that what you’re trying to emphasize by having the show be called “Boris with Michio Kurihara” rather than having Michio simply join as a supporting musician?
Atsuo: So we have an album called Futomeido coming out, and Michio also did an analog reissue of Sunset Notes recently. So there was that, and then we also ended up getting enough audio material for a live album, so we thought we’d put that out, too. As for the name of the show, it’s a way of reflecting back on our very first collaborations with Michio while at the same time differentiating it as a band from Boris.
We are playing Boris songs, too, but we intend to move forward with this lineup as a separate entity in the future. When put that way, I guess maybe it will be less “Boris with Michio Kurihara” and more “Michio Kurihara with Boris”.
Michio: Well, I kind of feel that whatever you guys do, it will always be Boris (laughter).
-So are you saying that we might see you make songs focused on Michio and begin touring as a different band?
Atsuo: Yeah, but with the premise that it’s the four of us playing together. Tours have a few more conditions involved, but we’d like to if we can.
That said, past tours went a bit rough, right?
Michio: There were some difficulties, yeah, but I had a ton of fun. It’s all wonderful memories to me now.
Atsuo: Oh, they’re wonderful now? Glad to hear it (laughter).
Michio: Touring with you guys is very easy in terms of personal interactions, which is a real lifesaver.
Takeshi: You and I ate dinner together every night. “Where should we try tonight?” and all that.
Wata: And then I served up breakfast for everyone in the mornings.
Takeshi: I’ve been eating dinner by myself ever since you left (laughter).
Michio: Yeah, back then the two of us would start off trying to find a good spot, but most of the time we just ended up getting hamburgers.
Atsuo: Anyway, I just think it’d be fun if we could tour again, and do something we can’t normally do as Boris along the way.
-You’ve started doing more projects aside from Boris as well.
Atsuo: Yeah, that’s right. A/N【eɪ-ɛn】.
You’ve seen A/N【eɪ-ɛn】 play live, haven’t you Michio?
Michio: A/N【eɪ-ɛn】 is cool. I’d never seen the two of them (Takeshi and Atsuo) play in another band before, though a band I was in with Seiichiroh Morikawa[*2] had done some shows with Boris. Seeing them from the outside, I was kind of like “Ah, so that’s how they sound”.
Atsuo: You and Morikawa were in YBO2[*3] together.
I think maybe the first time we ever spoke was when Boris and YBO2 played a show Shinjuku Antiknock way back when.
Michio: No, I’m pretty sure it was before then at an all-night show at Hosei University... It feels like we chatted for a bit in the parking lot at the end of the night when we were loading up our gear.
Atsuo: Really? Which one was first, I wonder. I don’t remember at all, but either way we connected a bit, with Morikawa, too.
Michio: That’s true.
A/N【eɪ-ɛn】1st show (2018.11.16)
-You saw A/N【eɪ-ɛn】 perform too, didn’t you, Wata? What did you think?
Atsuo: She kept going on about how indistinct Takeshi’s guitar sounded (laughter).
Michio: You weren’t using your double neck, were you? It seems like you were on a Teisco Les Paul model...
Takeshi: I was, but it was a semi hollow body, so it really howled.
Michio: And yet it looked so cool.
Takeshi: It’s amazing for quiet songs, but for louder ones it howls like crazy, so I played a modified BC Rich instead.
Atsuo: So, is that all you thought, Wata? That Takeshi sounded indistinct?
Wata: Hm... I thought it was pretty cool.
Michio: I have to say that the way you did the snow effect was really interesting. It’s a good thing I wasn’t directly underneath the snow machine (laughter).
Atsuo: It was a like Saburo Kitajima stage show (laughter).
A/N【eɪ-ɛn】1st show (2018.11.16)
Michio: Also, was it meant to be so dark inside the venue? It was pretty crazy. Like so dark that I didn’t know where to go.
Wata: I could only hear the sound of the petals with the lyrics written on them falling at the very beginning.
Atsuo: The venue was super dark now that you mention it.
Wata: Yeah, that’s why I wondered what was going on when there was only the sound of something dropping down from above.
Michio: It must have been part of the show.
Atsuo: Back when you (Michio) played with Boris, I remember the rest of the band complained when I asked the lighting guys to make everything pitch black, like “I can’t see my hands!” (laughter). Do you remember?
Michio: Was that during one of the earlier shows?
Atsuo: I’m pretty sure it was when we played at Daikanyama UNIT.
Michio: Oh yeah, I couldn’t see a thing. Nothing at all.
-It seems like this sort of thing could be a frequent thing with Boris with Michio Kurihara.
Atsuo: Eh, I’m not so sure of that. I get the feeling we’re going to be a flexible, regular band.
Takeshi: Like for example we won’t have to have all the gear laid out just right like with Boris, no smoke billowing, no gong on the stage, etc. The band will work without all that getup.
Atsuo: Yeah, it’s all about the music. With Boris and A/N【eɪ-ɛn】, a large percentage of the show is the experience, but this band is going to be a bit more focused on the music.
Takeshi: Michio is a bit different now than when he played with us in the past, so in that sense it’s maybe a good thing that he’s mellowed out like we mentioned earlier. Before he had a full-on feel, really pushing his sound to the front, but now we want to play our songs with a more chill, relaxed vibe, with these sorts of keywords coming up a lot even during rehearsal.
Atsuo: If we put it in terms of gradations, it used to be that we were either 10% or 100% black. Now, though, it’s like our gradations actually go from 10% to 50%.
Takeshi: And there’s some color to it as well.
But Rainbow already gives this impression.
Atsuo: Those songs were written with Michio’s guitars in mind, and it’s in that sense that these other milder tracks like “Futomeido” also came to be.
Live photo by Miki Matsushima